Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils, extracted from the flowers, fruits, leaves, stems and roots of flowers, shrubs and trees known for their alleged therapeutic benefits.
Although using plant oils to heal goes back to Egyptian times, the term ‘aromatherapy’ was only coined in 1928 when it was discovered, quite by chance, by a French chemist called Rene-Maurice Gattefosse.
Gattefosse was working in his laboratory one day when he had an accident and burnt his hand. To help soothe the pain, he plunged his hand into some lavender oil. To Gattefosse’s astonishment the pain soon eased and his burns healed without scarring. Intrigued, Gattefosse devoted the remaining years of his life looking into the properties of essential oils.
His work was carried on in the 1960s by physician Jean Valnet and biochemist Marguerite Maury. From their joint discoveries, modern aromatherapy was born.
Many people claim that aromatherapy does help to ease their pain. And there is some research to back up their claims. In 1992, for instance, the International Journal of Aromatherapy published a study on aromatherapy and pain relief: the study showed that massage with lavender oil actually helped to cut pain levels in patients by half.
So how does aromatherapy work? Essential oils may be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Inhaled scents stimulate the olfactory centres in the nose and particular parts of the brain. Oils massaged into the skin pass into the bloodstream and can influence the function of the nervous system.
If you’d like to try aromatherapy for yourself, you’ll find a huge range of essential oils on sale at pharmacies.
For more information, please contact the International Federation of Aromatherapists.
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Do not use if you have a stomach ulcer.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful.
If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. Do not give to babies under 3 months.